LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 30, 2010) — University of Kentucky graduate students don't typically require assistance with study skills, budgeting their time or communicating with professors.
But while grad student orientation might not call for a full-fledged K Week, acclimating to the Bluegrass and to UK's campus comes with its own difficulties and anxieties at any age; and graduate school is anything but a lighter academic load.
"Lexington is a different town when you're an undergrad," said Graduate Student Congress president Katelyn Kowles. "And in grad school, it's easy to stay within your department or college, or with your research in your lab. Not everyone hangs out."
Kowles wants to change the detachment and division that can pigeonhole graduate students. "We have very different issues and concerns from undergraduates," she said. "I'd like to bring graduate students together to hang out, get involved and solve problems."
Grad students new to Lexington might wonder where to park, where to eat out or where to grocery shop. International students have questions on everything from how to submit theses to where to find an apartment.
But Kowles and the GSC focus on the less mundane issues as well, including travel funding for students to attend conferences and privacy for teaching assistants.
Last year, the GSC was able to replace home addresses with office addresses for TAs listed on UK's campus directory. "If graduate student have issues like this, they come to us," said Kowles. "And before the Graduate School makes a decision about anything affecting us, they'll talk to the Congress."
Kowles already has a few group activities up her sleeve for her fellow scholars this fall, including a Graduate Student Resource Fair, an ice cream social, as well as a workshop series.
"I've basically asked everyone - what do you want to know more about?" she explained. "Is it résumé creation, presenting at a professional meeting, managing your money…health insurance? What do you want to learn?"
The GSC's unifying premise is simple: promote professional development and collaboration between grad students through seminars and social functions. See the city of Lexington, enjoy it and really live here.
GSC officers provide an ideal example of this diversity and teamwork, as they hail from animal science, English, engineering and entomology. There is something and someone for every type of grad student in every building on UK's campus…a K crew of graduate proportion!
"I'm super-pumped and ready to listen," said Kowles. "You don’t think about it, but graduate students have day-to-day issues, just like anyone else, and we're here to help."